So I did actually go back and watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 again and I have to say that it is a lot (I mean a lot) better than my grumblings may have made it out to be. To be honest, I should never have written a review for something I anticipated this much a mere moments after seeing it. This film needed a second viewing and some time for me to digest it before I made a swift judgment on it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t stand by what I said; almost all of my complaints are still how I feel. I still don’t think the ending was as satisfying as it should have been and overall this could have been a lot better of a film than it was but I digress. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a great film that captures the spirit of the books and gives a rousing end to the Harry Potter series. I especially loved the Gringots scene (that is the best movie dragon of all-time by the way) and like I have said before, the unveiling of Snape is the best scene is any Harry Potter film period. Deathly Hallows Part 2 isn’t the best Harry Potter film but I do feel like if you were to combine Part 1 and Part 2 together you would have a significantly better film. So much of the story is dealt with in Part 1 which gives Part 2 a climax feel to it and that may be my main problem with Part 2. It doesn’t feel complete and it feels estranged from the others. For good or bad the split of the two movies is probably why I feel this way.
So now that I have seen every Harry Potter film at least twice, I am going to geek out and rank these bad boys. The problem with ranking these movies is that each film is pretty good. Even the Potter film that comes in last is still a damn good movie (B+) and shows the real strength of these films, they are just so consistent. Each movie is incredible well done and the each one moves the plot of the series along. Before Part 2 I never walked out of the theaters disappointed and this probably has to do with how well produced these films were. Each director that had a hand in the series never let the magic die and each one gave a continuity to the franchise that is unmatched by any other series (Even Lord of the Rings). So without further a due, here are all of the Harry Potter films ranked:
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Oh Chamber of Secrets which gets a bad rap for being the worst of the Harry Potter series almost by default. Like I had said before, Chamber of Secrets is actually a pretty good film and has the problem of trying to follow up the Sorcerer’s Stone. It actually did do a good job of that but as Harry Potter matured, Chamber of Secrets just started to look like your old childhood Harry Potter. The film does have its flaws, Dobby is the most annoying character of the series and the movie almost feels like sorcerer’s stone part two but truth be told it’s not the small stuff that puts this at 8. It’s Christopher Columbus, who may have overstayed his welcome by one film.
7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Half-Blood Prince was the book of the series that I really wanted to see be adapted into a movie. It is a great build up book for the final Potter book and has the best Climax of the series. I mean this is the Empire Strikes Back of the Harry Potter books where shit gets real and it’s not looking good for our main characters. The film is visually stunning with the best cinematography of any of the Potter films but the movie spends too much time dabbling in the romances and because of that, much of the main mystery is lost. When Snape reveals that he is the Half-Blood Prince I bet there are people in the audience like, “wait, who is the Half-Blood Prince”. A rule of thumb for the Potter series should be “don’t forget your title” which means that each Potter film is episodic by nature and don’t forget that. Each book had a specific little thing about it that made it different from the other books whether it is the chamber of secrets being open or a potions book with all the answers, you have to incorporate the primary mystery of each book into each respective movie. Half-Blood Prince forgot its title and is more focused on setting up the love stories for the epic conclusion. There are a lot of great things in Half-Blood Prince like a visually stunning ending and Jim Broadbent is brilliant as Slughorn but Half-Blood is the most disappointing film of the series, as far as potential goes.
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The epic conclusion to the series may have missed a few things along the way here and there but for the most part it serves as a great conclusion to the series. With that being said I don’t feel like it reached the closure that Return of the King of did and some of the comic relief is put in at the absolute wrong moments. Yes this should have been a lot better of a film and yes I wished they would have gone out of their way to wrap up all of the loose ends but that epilogue is fabulous and when you place this film within the whole of the series it probably works a lot better. Time will show the legacy of the film but for now I am grateful for this last installment which ups the action and provides an end that will due.
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
5 through 2 were really hard to place into their respected slots. At one point I had Order of the Phoenix at number 2 but at the end of the day I had to go with what I believed to be true which is that even though I love this movie, it completely botches the ending. Order of the Phoenix is the longest book and even though for the most part the film version lets the plot breath and progress really well, it rushes its ending which isn’t as exciting as it should be. I love Voldamort and Dumbledore’s wizard duel which is the best duel of the entire series but the department of mysterious and Sirius’s death feels rushed and are emotional let downs. Other than that, the story progresses well and Staunton, who plays Professor Umbridge, is probably the best villain of the series. Yates does a fantastic job of pacing the story and moving the plot forward as the series approaches the final showdown of Harry and he who must not be named.
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Yea yea, Christopher Columbus was a pretty uninspiring choice to direct the first harry Potter film and yes it may be a little to loyal to the book but Columbus built the foundation of the series. From the strong casting to the creation of Hogwarts and the Wizarding world that has lasted for 7 films, Columbus’s influence is all over the Harry Potter series. He help bring the world of Harry Potter to film from scratch and made a movie that was worthy of the Potter name. Yea, it may be very kid friendly but come on, the first book in the series doesn’t have the serious tone as the others and Sorcerer’s stone’s narrative is like seeing this new world from a child’s prospective. Don’t get mad at Columbus for making a film the way it had to be made. Sorcerer’s Stone is a great family film and helped to launch this fabulous film franchise. I have to say that Columbus really surprised me here. He doesn’t make any particularly good movies but here he rose to the challenge of adapting probably the most famous book of our time. Touché Christopher.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the perfect build up film. This film had the hard task of dealing with the most boring parts of J.K. Rowling’s last act and instead of succumbing to that, it embraced it. Part 1 sees Harry and his two loyal friends into seclusion as they must hide from the Death Eaters and find the remaining Horcruxs. I really felt that this film was unnecessary and that they didn’t need to break the last book into two but I admit I was wrong. The story could not have been done if it wasn’t broken into two parts. Part 1 deals with most of the story and helps to build the stage for the final act. I especially loved the telling of the Deathly Hallows which uses gothic animation to show the powers of these three objects. This is Yate’s best Potter film and it is the one where he makes us feel how serious and deadly the threat of Lord Voldamort is. This is the darkest of the Harry Potter films and it is the one with the most to lose but it is a pleasant surprise and the strongest of the later Potter movies. If Half-Blood Prince is the Empire Strikes Back of the book series than Part 1 is the Empire Strikes Back of the film series.
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I admire this film more than I love it but I have to say that Cuaron did make a Potter film that showed the potential of what lies ahead. This is the artsy Potter film with stunning visuals and with the strongest acting of the series. I do hate the ending which has the biggest plot hole of the Harry Potter series but I guess that is more of the book’s fault than it is the movie. Because this is my list of favorite Potter films I put this at number 2 but by proof of the general census from critics and fans alike, this is most likely the best Harry Potter film. It is true that it was the first film to move away from the family friendly feel of the first two films and it delves into more of what Harry is feeling and dealing with but for me what makes it so great is that that it makes the magic darker. Instead of this childhood view of magic of the first two films, Azkaban shows the evil that would exist in a world of magic and wonder. This is the turning point of the series and first point where danger is fully realized. This is the first time where we begin to doubt that Harry will make it to graduation. Azkaban was the film that had to happen for the series to move in the right direction. Thanks Cuaron.
1. Harry Potter and the Goble of Fire
Ranking these films was hard to do and I had to just go with my gut to find the right place for each movie. The only film I had no doubt with where to put it was Goblet of Fire which is hands down the best Harry Potter film. Goblet of Fire does the best job of finding the balance between doing the main mystery of the book justice, continuing the main story of the series, and showing are main characters mature. Not only that but the visuals are awesome and the dragon challenge is the visual highlight of the film and maybe the series. Rowling has said that the main theme of the Potter films is Harry dealing with death and Goblet of Fire does the best job of showing the impact that death has on the life of Harry Potter. I feel like this was the biggest weakness of the Yates films which didn’t seem to want to deal with the weight of death. This is also the best screenplay of the series which lets the plot and story progress naturally with little to no distractions. No other Harry Potter movie has felt like they captured the spirit of their respective book as much as Goble of Fire does. Yes there are some flaws, like I wish that there was more time given to supporting characters (Sirius Black) and the Yule ball was a little less cheesy but those are only small grievances. This is the signature and essential Potter film and my favorite.